Robert L. Wichterman
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Should we all be tolerant and accepting of other's ideas and views, even when we disagree with their beliefs and solutions? If their sentiments were expressed politely, of course. We must be open minded and friendly. We should then present our own thoughts on the matter being considered, in an equally affable manner. If they cordially maintain their position, we should then move on to a "safe" subject, such as the weather.
That is how differences of opinions are handled in, what is euphemistically known as, "polite society." However, if the issue is the role of religion in our nation's daily life, there is rarely a civil discussion between the secularists, and members of any mainstream faith, but especially Christianity. Perhaps that is because there are more Christians in America than any other belief, and as Christians share their faith more than do those from other denominations. It appears that the secularists, supported by the media, are no more tolerant of Christianity than they are of Rush Limbaugh, or the NRA.
They are attempting to drive religions, not only from the public square, but also from any involvement whatsoever in education, healthcare, and welfare services. The methods employed to remove them are anti-discrimination statutes. The secularist's intent is to neutralize our freedom of religion.
The conflict is basically with a theological question: Did God create everything in existence, or did the divers religions create a god to suit their own ends, as the secularists contend? Whatever the answer is, as long as the secular state is able to maintain virtual control of these faiths, they will tolerate them. But should they attempt to influence the culture, and the state's legislative policies with their positions, the secularists will fight. Their strategy is to use existing laws to rally public opinion.
For example, the public reacts negatively to Islam's ban on equal civil rights for women. Christianity's and Judaism's practices and regulations are generally acceptable, although there are many who are opposed to those faiths that will not ordain women and homosexuals. The secularist's aim is, using the support of those who oppose these beliefs, to have anti-discrimination bills passed which will no longer exempt religions from having to comply with them. In Great Britain, for instance, the New Equality Act makes it illegal for a church to discriminate against a non-believer by hiring one of its own members, assuming they are both qualified for the position.
The current anti-discrimination laws in the United States have usually excluded all religions, so that they may continue to exercise their preferred employment practices. Actually, these exemptions are protections of our religious freedoms. The secularists are working to have them redefined, so that a church or religious organization that provides services to, for example, the homeless, or single parents, will not be able to employ only those who share their beliefs. Their ambition is to brand all religions, and their supporters, as intolerant towards those who disagree with them. Obviously, no faith with intolerant ideologies and standards should be sanctioned by society. The message put forth by the ACLU, and other left-leaning humanistic groups, is that many religions, but especially the fundamentalists, are hostile to our culture.
This idea is also being used to shape the public's perception of marriage. They want it redefined to accept any and all relationships as a "family." This view has been swallowed by many Western European nations, and is being forced on us here as "same-sex-marriage." Some lower-level courts have forbidden public schools in their districts from using the definition of "family" to be only a "man and a woman." It must be broader, and less specific. It has been reported that if, in answer to the question, "What constitutes a family?" the student's answer is a "Mother and a Father," it is graded as incorrect.
Another reason the secularists want to undermine all religions is to eliminate any restraints on sexual activity. This removal would include the methods and manners of procreation, and, as above, the definition of a "family." Those who oppose this standard are being characterized as "intolerant."
Two ambitions of the liberal left, the secularists, and the homosexual lobby, are first and most important, the rescinding of the Defense of Marriage Act. Passed under, and signed by President Clinton, it limits marriage to only a man and a woman. The second goal is to defeat the 1996 Charitable Choice Act, which makes it unlawful for federal agencies controlling anti-poverty grants to exclude faith-based organizations, because of their church's regulations, doctrines, and employment guidelines.
Finally, the New York Times has been urging President Obama to cancel President George W. Bush's executive order extending the statutory employment protections from the above 1996 act, to apply to all federal anti-poverty spending. As of the end of September, 2009, though, the President has not acted on any of these issues.
It would be difficult, at this time, for the homosexual and far-left lobbies to have a legalization of same-sex marriage bill pass through both houses of Congress, and then be signed by the President. One of the unintended consequences, if it were adopted, would be that there could no longer be any laws prohibiting any other form of matrimony. If homosexual weddings were now the law of the land, there could not be a ban against polygamy, or other types of open marriages. In fact, additional courts would have to be established in order to deal with the many lawsuits these new unions would engender.
Therefore, how should we respond, if necessary, to this potential persecution because of our beliefs? We must publicize our maltreatment by the state, describing the nature of the threat. Call on the leaders of the other national religions to stand with us, communicating to them and the general public that the secularists' objective is to reduce our impact on American society, and what the ramifications would be if they were successful. An example of that harassment comes from a recent case in a lower Texas court. The judge declared that two public school teachers were guilty of praying to God in front of (presumably) impressionable students. Thankfully, this decision will be overturned on appeal.
The 1966 UN International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights, directs the nations to "respect the liberty of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children, in conformity with their own convictions." The United States endorsed this declaration.
In spite of those marvelous sentiments, we are only able to enjoy all of our freedoms, including that of religion, because of organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund, who know how to have the protections of those rights enforced by the courts, as the threat to those rights and privileges is constant.
The secularists' antipathy towards all religions is genuine. It must be confronted openly, so that everyone will know that there are those in positions of authority in our government who would, if they were able to, limit all of our freedoms. It is written "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." It is as true today as it ever was. *
"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." --Thomas Jefferson